Op-Ed: Is smearing food on the ‘Mona Lisa’ a productive form of climate change protest?
How many more people of color will die, be injured, and experience violence in the name of climate change? For how many millions of people will it be their fault? It’s difficult, even impossible, to imagine, and yet in the very near term we’re already starting to see what it might look like.
Yesterday, the New York Times published an editorial about the ongoing global climate crisis. The Times reported that as of 2005, about 800,000 people living in the United States had been directly exposed to “very high” carbon pollution levels. More than 200,000 of these people have been directly exposed to dangerously high levels of carbon pollution. In other words, nearly half of all American adults are exposed to dangerously high levels of carbon pollution.
What’s happening to the oceans?
The Times writes: “For most of the past decade, the oceans have been losing heat. Scientists have concluded that warming at the surface, in the Southern Hemisphere, is driven primarily by manmade carbon dioxide, rather than sunspots, the earth’s natural thermostat. That’s been the leading message, in every major scientific study. But what happens to the oceans when those temperatures rise?”
The Times continues: “And what happens when temperatures rise remains to be seen. For decades, scientists have suggested that warmer waters could produce what they feared might be a new type of mass extinction. But recent studies, conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and NASA, say temperature-induced ocean acidification is just as likely to be the culprit of a mass extinction as carbon pollution. And they warn that it could be far more deadly.”
Oceans absorb almost 90 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. In other words, without the addition of carbon dioxide, the Earth’s oceans would be rapidly absorbing about 97 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions. And while the oceans absorb roughly 70 percent of the heat produced by fossil fuel burning, the Earth’s oceans are absorbing the majority of the heat produced by carbon pollution.
It is therefore quite likely that as oceans absorb some of the additional heat from carbon pollution, they will be warming faster than previously thought. At very least, this means more people will die, become injured, and be exposed to violence in